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31 March 2014, 07:26 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50
The North East Chamber of Commerce is challenging local businesses to increase the number of apprenticeships in the North East over the next 100 days.
Apprenticeships have been going from strength to strength within the North East, with more than 35,000 people starting a qualification last year.
However, it is hoped the 2014 challenge will see more businesses get involved, with apprentices vital to the region's economy and to developing a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce within local firms.
Skills shortages and recruitment difficulties have been raised as concerns in NECC's Quarterly Economic Survey as the recovery has gathered pace.
Apprenticeships offer a route to the fresh talent businesses need, ensuring they have staff with the valuable skills and qualifications they require now and in the future.
NECC chief executive James Ramsbotham said:
"With the recovery now accelerating, morefirms need to grow their capacity to take advantage of new business opportunities and we can't meet the demand for skilled staff from within the region's labour force.
It is great to see so many North East businesses responding to this by growing their investment in apprenticeships and our own training team is seeing more and more firms recognise the importance of doing so.
As the economy grows, it is not only an opportune time to make this investment, it is becoming increasingly urgent to fulfil the potential among our region?s businesses and people."
The 100 Days Apprenticeship Challenge, which runs from Monday 31 March until 8 July 2014, encourages investment in training for new recruits and existing staff.
NECC member Caterpillar, based in Peterlee, is embarking on further investment in apprenticeships as the first business to pledge its support to the Challenge.
Caterpillar, which currently has 33 apprentices, will be recruiting more young people to roles across the organisation; from fabrication to paint and auto-electrical.
Caterpillar Peterlee is the only site in the world that manufactures Caterpillar trucks; whichare exported from Peterlee to the US and across the globe.
More information about the 100 Days Apprenticeship Challenge can be found on the campaign website HERE